Last month, I was fortunate to get an internship at the Hinrich Foundation for its Export Trade Assistance program.

The interview

I remember sitting in a cafe before my appointment with Phiengphaneth Chanthalangsy, export consultant of Export Trade Assistance Program – Laos of the Hinrich Foundation. It felt similar to my first day of college; I was excited and anxious. In the college I attend, fellow students do not often get the opportunity to intern. That is what actually drew me to apply for an internship with the foundation – an opportunity to learn how to work with an international organization and improve my communication skills.

My first interview with our lovely supervisor, Chan Phiengphaneth Chanthalangsy
My first interview with our lovely supervisor, Chan Phiengphaneth Chanthalangsy

I made sure to arrive to the cafe on time but to my surprise, I found out that my supervising director, Chanthalangsy, was already there. I understood that she was a professional woman. We had a good greeting before I was asked many questions about my past experiences and trade in Laos. She made me feel really comfortable, like a big sister talking to her younger sister. It felt more like a simple discussion, rather than a formal interview. After we finished talking, I had the opportunity to meet Vichitta Soondara, who would become my colleague in the program. Although he is only a year older than me, he seemed much more experienced because of his driven personality.

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A souvenir from a supplier

Working with suppliers

Having lunch with Alex Boome, program director of the Hinrich Foundation, my supervisor, Phiengphaneth Chanthalangsy and my colleague, Vichitta Soondara
Having lunch with Alex Boome, program director of the Hinrich Foundation, my supervisor, Phiengphaneth Chanthalangsy and my colleague, Vichitta Soondara

From the very first day at the Foundation, my supervisor taught me how to work with a website called Global Sources. She wanted to make sure that I could use the website and interact with the suppliers. I had never thought that I would receive such good care like this.

The first thing that I learned from the job is why this program is needed in my country. Few suppliers in Laos know how to trade their products to foreign countries. After I realized that, I felt like I needed to help them as much as I could to allow Lao products to be known by everyone! As an intern, I received planning orders from my supervisor and visited suppliers to train them to use our website and add product and contact information on it.

While training the suppliers, I got a good response and a warm welcome from them. They also paid for my drinks and even gave me a souvenir, a beautifully painted vase made of bamboo.

What I gained from my experience

My internship was a positive experience. The best part of it was meeting new and inspiring people. I received valuable career advice from Alexander Boome, the program director of the Hinrich Foundation, and discovered that managing people well is about bringing them to their fullest potential. This model also needs to be applied to Laos economy.

This experience helped me better understand the relationship between a trade organization and suppliers. If you are looking to find an internship program, comfortable about trying new things, then an internship at the Hinrich Foundation might be the perfect fit for you. I have learned that coming in with an open mind, and sharing as many ideas as possible with my colleagues at the Foundation helped me get the most out of this incredible experience.

About the author – Maly Inthilathvongsy

Maly's profile photo

Maly Inthilathvongsy (Mic) is an intern at the Hinrich Foundation in Vientiane, Laos. She is pursuing her associate degree of business administration at the Lao-American College. In the past, she has worked as a stock manager at Le Trio Coffee Roasting Company.